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Chapter 4: Clever Witches
(Authors Note: I have decided to solely focus on finish this fic before I post the others. So if you're reading any of the others I apologize! Next chapter shall be coming as soon as this goes through.)
“Luna” The name shook the blonde from her own thoughts of pixies and carrots, of course it wasn’t odd she thought about carrots often, they didn’t quite match however, close, but no. When she saw the beautiful shade of red hair coming towards, she smiled softly.
“Hello Ginny”, Luna didn’t have many friends before, Ginny had always been closest too her from the DA being the same age, but other than that. She supposed Harry loved her, he loved many people so fiercely. She was certain she could say the same of him. She would be devastated if anything happened to him, but his was a protective love, Luna appreciated the thought, but it all seemed silly considering the times. She turned her attention back to the girl in front of her. Ginny waited patiently as she finished her thoughts, she was quite good about that. “You need to talk to me”, she noticed her friends fidgety movements and nervous expression.
Ginny didn’t even think she just threw her arms around her best friend. “Oh I don’t even know what I’m doing”, she was on the verge of tears Luna could tell.
“Well that seems quite odd”, Luna said through being squeezed, “You seem to be embracing me”. She was for the first time confused by her friend.
Ginny nearly chuckled, Luna baffled by her, that’s a first. “I need to tell you who I was with at the ball”.
“Oh” Luna used this opportunity, to remove herself from Ginny’s clutches and direct them to a quiet bench, one where they would be less likely overheard, “I… would also like to speak with you about something”, The young witch said brightly. They sat and then Ginny starred off for a moment, Luna waited patiently studying her friend as she figured out how to best break the news to her.
After a moment she became restless. “Draco Malfoy”, Luna said quietly. Ginny’s eyes flew open and she looked at her friend in shock.
“How did you..?”
“He is unlike any other”, she said sadly. Ginny decided that wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
“He’s marked”, to her credit Luna didn’t immediately start scolding Ginny, she sat there thoughtful for a moment and nodded.
“You cannot save what does not wish it”, again she said sadly.
“I know”, Ginny sighed.
“Unless you have a net of Shorbogs and Grindysnaps, but they’re quite dangerous to make, and quite”, her face turned a bit red, “scandalizing”.
“Luna…” Ginny had to confide her next secret in her friend, “I think I may have the scandalizing part down”, Luna’s eyes went wide, that’s the second time Ginny Weasley has startled her today, perhaps it was some sort of record.
“That changes everything”, Luna stood immediately as if it was all too much to take sitting down.
“There’s more”, Ginny winced and she retold the story, leaving out more of the embarrassing details.
Luna’s interest peaked when Ginny told her of the reaction to his mark. “Curious”, Luna frowned, “Dark magic, is always so curious”.
“You don’t hate me?” Ginny looked shocked.
“Of course not, I am afraid for you, of course, any friend would be”, Luna still seemed to trying to be puzzling something out as she said it. Her head tilted slightly and her blonde hair fell over her shoulder. “He is… unstable.” She couldn’t think of a better word for it. “As if someone is trying over and over again to break him”, neither of them had to guess who that someone may be. “You cannot give him yourself to hold on to Ginny, he will drag you down, he won’t know how not to, there is no way, unless…” she paused. Ginny liked the “unless” it meant, well maybe there was hope. “He needs to climb, but it’s a steep slope with no visible handholds, do you understand me?” Normally Ginny barely had a clue what Luna meant, but this she understood perfectly.
“I punched a hole in the side of the cliff, and he saw a way up, for a moment”, she really was losing it, and she was talking like Luna now.
Luna smiled at her. “If there is anything to be saved, he has no better caretaker”, it was meant as a compliment, not necessarily a blessing. Ginny hugged her friend again, before remembering how selfish she was being Luna had something she needed to say as well.
“Oh, I’m a dolt, what is it you had to say?” Ginny released her friend.
Luna smiled brightly, “It was nothing really, I am in love with Ronald, and am in need of finding a way to make him realize it was me that night”, she sighed. Ginny’s smiled knowingly.
“I do believe me and Hermione may already have a plan”, Luna looked at her confused, that’s the third time today, but she had that impish grin on her face and Luna wasn’t sure she would like that the two girls had a way of inserting themselves into other people’s business, but herself it was the push Ronald needed.
Finally the Hogsmeade weekend had come. Ginny had woken up early Saturday and swung down to the great hall for breakfast, many of her fellow students had slept in. She noticed Luna first sending her friend a wave and a wink, their plan would officially be taking place today. Although Hermione and Ginny didn’t really reveal all the details to Luna.
Before she could stop herself her eyes fell on the Slytherin table, the blonde was pretending to read the paper, but his eyes peered over it at her. She kept her face neutral, and looked away, but did so with a smile. So he wasn’t ignoring her.
She sat down across from Hermione and they two went over their plans for today again.
Draco looked up the moment she walked in, it was bad enough he couldn’t stop thinking about her and she was in nearly every one of his dreams, but when she smiled like that at him, something so worthy of Slytherin mischief, well his heart damn near skipped a beat, and he loathed her for it. Couldn’t she see, this was real for him, she presented him with something he could never have. For a moment it seemed possible, he had tried to rework it in his mind several times, but it always ended the same, more or less they both were killed.
His usual crowd was still passed out in the common room from last night’s festivities so he was free to relax at the Slytherin table for once. He had always enjoyed Saturday mornings for this very reason. She had told him she would see him on the battle field. Perhaps that was true, but he wasn’t looking forward to his summon late today. Hogsmeade weekends were the only time they could get in touch with their “special students” inside the school. Something that had always had such joy for him, he now dreaded. Wishing he could stay in the safety of Hogwarts forever, but he knew he was in trouble, and not only that, he was told he would be given a task for the remainder of the year.
He supposed he would have to work on it with Pansy, that’s how it usually went. Infiltrate this, get information from this person, those sorts of things.
He looked up to Ginny again she was huddled over talking in a low voice to Hermione. He wondering if she had told the girl, probably not, he felt another pair of eyes on him forever. The small blonde insane girl from Ravenclaw. He had seen Ginny with her, he met her gaze and she frowned.
Her eyesbrows drew together as if she was trying to figure something out and then, she gave him a small sad smile before she stood to leave. Draco looked at her in shock. Her? Ginny had told her? She shouldn’t have told anyone at all. It was only meant to be between them and why did the girl look so judgmental wasn’t she half crazy or something. She should be the last one judging him.
“Then again a case could be argued against my sanity”, Draco said under his breath to his newspaper.
Winter was dying out and the snow in hogsmeade had lessened. Most students threw on a coat and braved the little bit of chill that lingered from the last snow. Ginny set out with Hermione and Luna, they had to inform Luna on exactly how they were going to manipulate her and Ron to bring them together today, but perhaps that was part of the fun.
“It isn’t anything drastic?” Luna asked, but the hint of a smile on her face gave away her true nature of adventure.
“Don’t worry, neither of you will be injured”, Hermione replied in a matter of fact tone.
“Much”, Ginny added in with a childish giggle.
“You’re going to need this though”, Hermione handed Luna a plain paper bag. The blonde girl peered inside and smiled, but said nothing else.
“Alright, let’s do this”, Ginny opened the door for Hermione as they all stepped into the three broomsticks. Ron and Harry both looked up as they entered, expression of stupor on their faces.
“bloody…” Ron couldn’t finish his sentence.
“Ya…” Harry intoned after. Before entering the door of the three broomsticks the three clever witches redid their disguises from the ball, each wearing their mask. Ginny giggled under the feathers as they tickled her once more, she was more here for the theatrics than anything. For it wasn’t just Luna that was going to break the news, well Hermione had her own suspicions.
“Gin?” Ron peered at his sister as she neared them , she smiled.
“So glad you recognize me”, she rolled her eyes, “I think you may also have met my friends before”, she giggled before taking a seat at the table, Harry and Ron looked in awe at the two girls. One with straight blonde hair, a black and red mask on her face, the same one Harry had spotted from across the room at the ball. What surprised him the most about the girl was how smart she was. They danced a few times. She had reminded him an awful lot like Hermione with her wit, but she was so daring and alive.
“It’s” Ron could barely stutter out the word. The raven haired girl from the ball, she frowned slightly at him.
“Hello Ronald”, she said quietly. She had been quiet that evening too, but when she spoke it always seemed to be something of utmost importance. “I could not obtain a shorbog net”, she said cryptically.
“Huh?” was all Ron managed to say.
Ginny smiled at her friends until she noticed a flash of blonde out of the corner of her eye.
Draco spit his drink out when she entered the room. His eyes followed her from the door to the table where she joined her brother and Saint Potter. “Was she nutters?” Her hair was dark again, he decided he preferred the red, but the memories of the ball flew back into his mind. He starred completely awe struck at the smiling girl in front of him.
The worst was only yet to come. He thought about sneaking out before she noticed, but if as on queue the girl turned to look at him. Neither of them could keep from smiling. It seemed the others were occupied making googly eyes at each other and almost everyone else in there was starring at these two strange girls standing up with the masks on. With a flick of her wand, the mask disappeared and her hair fell into its natural color. Draco smirked, definitely liked her better that way.
Then, she did the unthinkable. She nodded her head off into the direction behind her, the hallway to the loos and the backroom, and with purpose stood, excused herself from the others, not that they were paying attention anyway and with one last look at Draco, she stood and headed down the hall.
Draco looked around for a moment, spotting no immediate danger, he threw a few sickles on the table, as if he had purpose to leave, and casually walked behind the group following the girl who plagued his dreams with her wickedness.
“I’m so stupid”, Everyone’s attention turned to Harry, “I should have known, how could I not have known”, He had missed his chance at the dance to kiss his mystery girl. No way in hell was he going to miss it this time.
“Sorry Mate”, he inclined to his friend and immediately stood, wrapped his arms around the blonde girl in front of him, dipped her back and kissed her dramatically, like they did in the old muggle movies.
“I could kick myself”, he said when he helped her straighten herself. “All this time Hermione”, The girl smiled at the sound of her name, and her disguise vanished.
“Wait…” Ron looked to Harry, back to Hermione, back to Harry. “Gross Mate”, he cringed, Hermione was like their best friend.
“Shut up Ron”, Hermione said with zero of its usual bossiness.
“Let’s ummm… I suppose we should talk”, Harry stuttered out. Hermione speechless, hell had officially frozen over, nodded. Harry led her by the hand out of the pub and down the street a ways.
“Bloody hell”, Ron watched after them confused until Luna cleared her throat. His eyes fell back to the witch in front of him.
“Ummm…” he should make a grand show like Harry did, but he still had no clue who she was.
“I see”, Luna frowned; she tried not to the let the hurt show on her face. “You don’t know me, after all”. There she was the girl of his dreams standing in front of him willing him to know who she is, but he couldn’t in the slightest idea figure it out. The world in his view was completely bonkers. Harry had just snogged Hermione, there was this girl standing in front of him, and she smelled like vanilla and pinecones the same way she did that night. He knew her hair was probably not actually that color, but it was her eyes that held him anyway.
“I”, he stood, and she looked down away from him embarrassed, he brought her chin up, so their gazes locked. Those eyes.
She laughed as the rabbit darted around the room in pure delight her face lighting up and her eyes shining, she laughed even harder when Ron’s patronus puppy knocked him flat on his arse.
“Levicorpus”, the death eater flew up into the air and away from them. Her eyes held such intensity then, she could take on the world if she had too.
“It’s alright Ron, I don’t think there’s any nurbles in there, it’s safe to go in”, she smiled at him as she passed him on her way out of potions. He was dreading another year with Snape. He had thought she was insane then.
“Please to meet you”, she looked up from her strange magazine and he saw her for the first time, her voice was small and polite and her eyes, those eyes.
She frowned against and turned to go.
“Luna”, he barely whispered it at first, but the name made her stop, she turned back to him.
“What did you say?” she couldn’t trust her ears.
“Luna”, he said a bit louder the realization hitting him in full. “Bloody… hell”, he stuttered. “Luna” this time he said her name much louder, alerting half the pub.
Luna’s face lit up, “Yes Ron, but I think everyone can hear you now”, she said simply. His face flushed red and Luna giggled.
“May I sit?” she asked nodded at the chair Ginny had vacated earlier.
“Umm ya” Ron clumsily pulled it out for her before sitting next to her, not quite sure of what to say.
“Thank you”, she smiled as they both settled.
“Luna?” Ron asked looking at her. “Can you maybe?” he pointed at his own face.
“Oh”, Luna touched her mask forgetting the sky blue lace was still there, “I umm, well Ginny, she’s rather brilliant with charms you know and she charmed them, it won’t go away, until you well.” Luna simply shrugged.
“Oh”, Ron dropped his gaze immediately his face turning the same color as his hair, “Ya alright”, he said more to himself, his brought his hand back to her face again, caressing her cheek, before he brought his lips to hers lightly. She pulled away giggling as the charm wore off and she turned back into herself.
“Are you disappointed?” She asked not sure what to do about his sudden silence.
“No”, he admitted, because, truly he wasn’t. “Just a bit surprised.” He supposed he should get used to that Luna it seemed was full of surprises. She smiled and took his hand entwining her fingers with his.
“ Bloody hell”, he repeated , this time with a smile. Today the world had definitely gone bonkers and he was now all for it.
“Are you mad or do you just get a sick sense of pleasure torturing me”, Draco groaned as he caught up with Ginny in a few quick strides and pulled her back into the store room.
“Nice to see you too”, Ginny raised her brow as the door closed behind them. “It was for Hermione and Luna, I had no idea you were…” She was cut off with a crushing kiss. She supposed she should be used to them by now, desperate clinging to life as if she was life in itself kind of kisses, but it still left her dizzy when she pulled away.
“If you stay around me, we’ll both end up dead”, he said seriously, looking down at her, she was half in shadow because of the dim storage room lighting.
“You followed me”, she pointed out.
“Yes, because you clearly weren’t inviting”, he shot back a little colder than he had meant.
“Exactly what do you mean by inviting”, she hissed. If he assumed because one time she was going to just, or with any guy.
“Not what I meant”, he said quickly before her temper escalated any further the last thing they needed was for someone to hear them. Ginny huffed for a moment, but the rage passed.
“I know”, she admitted, but she wanted to make him feel guilty. For what exactly, ignoring her? Hadn’t she expected that.
“I just…” He began, and then let a string of curse words Ginny’s mother would have washed his mouth out for. “I can’t stop thinking about you”, he finally said in a rush. Ginny wasn’t sure she heard it.
“You either”, she sighed, it would have been easier if it was only one sided, but the blonde was on Ginny’s mind just as much.
“We’re fucked”, he sighed, caressing the side of her face and dropping his hand to her neck entangling it in her hair.
“Completely” Ginny agreed moving into the touch her eyes fluttering closed. She didn’t see him bend down to claim her mouth, but she responded in kind immediately. Her hands found their way around his neck, playing with the little ends of his hair. He let one hand slide her down and rest on her hip as he backed up into the wall, he braced the other hand on the wall as she clung to him as to not crush her.
He knew he had to leave and now, before this escalated. He had to go meet “them” anyway. “I can’t…” he broke from her leaning his forehead against hers. “I have to go”, he whispered before kissing the top of her head. Ginny frowned and the look on her face made him want to scoop her up and carry her far far away from anything that could ever hurt her.
“Alright”, she said, she had gathered her wits it seemed and masked her face with a blank stare. He claimed her mouth once more before he darted from the store room, leaving her with the taste of him on her lips. He didn’t mean to be so abrupt, but he wasn’t sure he could leave any other way. It took Ginny a moment to gather herself, before exiting as well. She stalked back out into the pub, Ron and Luna were starring at each other hunched together talking in low voices. No way did she want to interrupt that. She glared in their direction before softening her expression and remembering that she was happy for her friend and her brother, she couldn’t think of anyone else she’d want in Ron’s life and once he got over his own stupidity, he would treat Luna well. They would be happy.
She cursed her stupid self, apparently it ran in the family. Draco fucking Malfoy, what was she thinking? She left the pub just in time to see Draco and a few other Slytherins she recognized discreetly file into a shadier pub down the street. It took Ginny all of two seconds to figure out what he meant when he said he had to go now. Her heart was possibly shattering in two right there.
“Fuck”, she whispered, and she turned heel and keeping her head low to hide her tears she walked swiftly back towards Hogwarts.
“Mister Malfoy”, it was Crabbe’s father who glared at him from across the room. “Curious thing happened according to our Lord, very curious, said he felt something”, he lingered on the word felt. “From you”.
“It was nothing”, Draco shrugged it off as if it didn’t matter, “Some stupid bint got too close to my mark, felt weird, she didn’t see it or anything”.
Pansy made a noise from somewhere behind him. He would answering to her later.
“Perhaps you would do well to exercise a bit more caution”, Crabbe hissed. The man was vile, but practically a squib. Draco new there was nothing he could piece together, it was Voldemort he worried about. The Dark Lord had felt something, which meant Draco’s suspicions were correct about what had happened.
“Yea sure”, he intoned, before his aunt stepped up and smiled down at him and then her attention turned to Pansy behind her.
“Deary deary, naughty Draco”, she tisked, “Come now Dear”, she held her hand for Pansy to take as she pulled her out of the group, “Aunty Bellatrix has many new things to show you”, she led the girl from the group of Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle. Draco shivered as they went past them, crazy witches.
“Assignments”, Crabbe senior said, in what he must have thought was an authoritative tone. His son and Goyle immediately straightened as if they were military of some sort. Draco stood masking his emotions casually leaning against a desk, as if he didn’t have a care in the world, while his mind was spinning. Still dizzy from his run in with Ginny, and now, knowing that he had in fact put her in danger, not once now, but twice made him feel sick to his stomach.
“Draco”, His name shook him out of his thoughts, “The secret passage, did you locate it?” Draco only nodded. “Will polyjuice be enough to trick the schools wards?”
“No”, he admitted, he had tested it himself, and it nearly cost some poor imperious wizard his life.
“Fine” the man said, “You’ll continue as you were then with your attempts on the vanishing cabinet, the last trials were…” he smiled cruelly, “less than satisfactory, he is not pleased with you Draco.”
“I’m doing all that I can”, Draco said defensively. He would have to stay off the Dark Lords radar if it meant him not raising questions about Ginny.
"The Dark Lord thinks you may need some more motivation", The man had his wand out and was twirling it between his fingers Draco's eyes locked on it. His first instict was to pull his wand to throw up a protection spell and to counter. His fingers twitched towards his pocket, but he refrained. He knew he had to. The crucio hit him like a truck and he immediatly doubled over and fell to his knees. Besides from the grunts of the pain he remained silent, his face screwed up. He wouldn't give the man pleasure of hearing him scream. He'd had worse, his father was particularly gifted at the curse, but he couldn't voice his opinions at the moment. A crucio was a crucio and Draco was curled up in a ball on the floor before it was over. He was breathing heavily, but feeling as if he couldn't get air.
"Perhaps now you will stop being so lax", the man looked down on him as if he was nothing, as if he wasn't the son of one of the most influental families in the wizarding world. Draco would remember this day. He would remember this man, because on day he was going to kill him.
“Dismissed.” The man sneered at Draco on the way out. He would love to see his son trying to fix that ancient thing, he still had no idea why a vanishing cabinet was going to help at all. Even if he managed to let it slip something past Hogwarts wards it wasn’t a two way street, that’s not how those things worked. He was making it to his feet now, holding his stomache in fear he would lose everything in it. That was the problem with Crucio, everything always hurt after. He walked slowly and carefully as if he was drunk from the building and down the busy street, keeping his head low and hood up. He split from the rest of the Slytherin group shaking off Pansy's attempts to speak with him and heading back towards the school as the rest of them went to enjoy what was left of the day.
Even with today's ending events his moment with Ginny was in the forfront of his mind. If he didn't find a way to make that cabinet work it wouldn't matter much longer because he'd be dead.